I've been following the events in the Ukraine with interest, but no particular expertise. I'm half-European, and have decent knowledge of the history and current socio-political dynamics. I've been impressed by the Maidan protests - sustaining an action like that for months, through a Ukrainian winter, with minimal violence, takes determination, solidarity, and organization.
The events of the last few days have been fascinating, as well as the discussions on DK and elsewhere. There's a complex interplay of dynamics, a variety of perspectives, and it's hard to get perspective on what's actually happening, and who's doing what. That's unsurprising, because Popular Uprisings/Revolutions are Messy - there are unintended consequences, alliances develop and disintegrate, actions and events create opportunities and setbacks, and groups and individuals act without full knowledge of the current circumstances, nor the possible outcomes.
Which is why I'm always leery of people who call for revolution. There are many good reasons to engage in peaceful protest, here and around the world, and we have excellent historical examples of successful and unsuccessful large-scale actions, movements, protests, and revolutions to learn from. The Occupy Movement is the most recent example of a large-scale action in the US, and the lessons learned there will strongly influence the next large-scale action in the US.
I'm leery of people who call for revolution because there are never perfect outcomes. Any large-scale popular movement is going to have unintended and unanticipated effects. I don't trust leaders who say they know how things are going to turn out, and I don't trust people who say that revolution is the solution. I work for the good as I can, support causes and ally myself with others as much as possible, but I never have confidence that the effect of my actions is going to be perfectly what I intended. The more people involved, the greater the chaos factor.
Ukraine's Euromaidan movement went a hell of a lot further than the US Occupy movement. I don't have enough knowledge of either to do an analysis of the similarities and differences between the two, but a core similarity seems to be that both were long-term protests with strong popular support, and a core difference is that Euromaidan focussed more on specific political demands, and was more open to alliances with specific political groups.
I've been surprised by the negative reaction to what's now apparently being called the Ukrainian Revolution by some commenters on DK, because from my perspective, this is what popular uprisings/revolutions look like. There certainly are legitimate reasons to critique the statements and actions of the various entities at play here, including the various Ukrainian groups, and the EU, the US, and Russia. But I feel that the core energy driving the Euromaidan movement are the actions, determination and commitment of the Ukrainians involved, and those supporting them. They held strong through the winter against repressive government actions, including riot police, snipers, and arrests, tortures, and harassment of individuals, leaders, and journalists. That's pretty amazing, and inspirational!
Obviously, there has been US and EU influence - both have historical and diplomatic ties to the Ukraine. As far as I can tell, the criticism of the US involvement is based on funding pro-democracy groups in the Ukraine, and conversations between the US embassy and opposition leaders. Both are unsurprising, from my perspective, although I haven't seen much specific information about either (yes, I've listened to Victoria Nuland's recording - I'd love to see detailed analysis of both. US diplomacy is primarily based on protecting US interests - maintaining relationships with opposition groups, and influencing political outcomes is part of that.
I believe that US involvement in funding pro-democracy groups has contributed to the effectiveness of Euromaidan (as has Occupy). Analzying/quantifying the significance of US involvement is pretty much impossible at this point, but I don't think it's the dominant factor. Nor do I see it as particularly sinister - I like it a hell of a lot better than the Strongman policy, where the US supported leaders like Pinochet. I also believe that US involvement in current Ukrainian politics is and has factored in likely Russian responses (including military action). To the extent that the US is involved, they would want to encourage as stable a transition as possible, primarily to minimize the Russian response.
Since Russian troops began occupying Crimea, there's been minimal violence. Granted, that could change at any time, and armed conflict could quickly escalate. My interpretation is that Putin wants to negotiate with the Ukraine from a position of strength, by occupying Crimea. The absence of military violence so far suggests to me the both Russia and the Ukraine would prefer a negotiated outcome to a violent one.
There's a lot of noise right now about possible military action by the US or other outside parties. I feel there's almost no possibility of that, outside of a large-scale invasion of the Ukraine by Russia (and little possibility then). Russia's limited incursion into Georgia sets a precedent for their so-far limited incursion into Crimea.
One thing I've been missing on DK so far is accounts by people who are close to the situation - Ukrainians, and people with close connections to the Ukraine - I'd love to hear your thoughts!
So hell, I'm not claiming that my position/interpretation is right, but I did want to contribute to the discussion - looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I'm especially interested in hearing about good sources for accurate news and reporting on the situation, particularly from within the Ukraine.
Updated with links from commenters:
ORGANISING EUROMAIDAN. THE BIGGEST PROTEST IN UKRAINE’S RECENT HISTORY
And for those who are curious about where I get my information, I don't watch tv. I follow bbc.co.uk, guardiannews.com, and a smattering of others, including slate and salon, as well as links and diaries on DK.